Sofia Alvarado had a normal birth with no complications on April 3 at Covenant Levelland. But for Dr. John Hanna who delivered Alvarado, this birth was a big deal. Alvarado was the 3,000th baby Hanna delivered during the past 18 years of working at Covenant Levelland.
Thanks to records tallied every year, Hanna keeps count of each birth, and crunches his own statistics as well. According to his calculations he has delivered a baby on average every 27 hours over the past 18 years.
Hanna came to the South Plains for his residency and then moved to Levelland because of the opportunities the small town offered for him to practice every facet of medicine.
“I do everything I can do [at Covenant Levelland]: internal medicine, surgery and pediatrics, but my favorite is obstetrics and that’s what I try to do as much as I can,” Hanna explained. “I’ve never turned a pregnant woman away, ever. It’s a very vulnerable time and they need lots of special attention.”
Hanna is always on call to deliver babies and will often disrupt his sleep schedule to deliver a baby in the middle of the night. After delivering 3,000 babies, he believes that babies are more likely to be born in the window between midnight at 6 a.m.
Hanna estimates that he works between 100 and 145 hours each week, he doesn’t get much sleep.
“There’s been many times where I go and lay down and [Covenant would] call me and be like, ‘there’s an [expectant] mother here, you better get up here,’ so I run in, I jump in the car and I drive up and I deliver,” Hanna said. “Then I go back, I crawl into bed, I’m in bed maybe 30 minutes, and they call and they’re like ‘Get back up here again.'”
But the long hours are more than worthwhile for Hanna who delights in remembering each birth he gets to help with.
“I love Levelland, I do, I love the people,” Hanna said. “When somebody walks into the door and I can sit down and talk with them about how their mom is, or their sisters, or thier babies and everything, that makes it feel like every patient I have is family.”
Many of Hanna’s patients feel the same way. The walls where he works are lined with pictures sent to him of the children he’s delivered. Leticia Lopez said that Hanna is the number one pick for her family members when it comes to childbirth.
“He delivered 14 of our grandkids out of 20, and then he delivered 3 of our great grandkids,” Leticia said.
Leticia’s daughter, Anastacia Lopez, delivered all five of her kids with Dr. Hanna.
“My last babies that he delivered were my set of twins and they all love him, all my kids love him,” Anastacia said.
“He’s really not just a doctor, once you see him, he does become part of your family, when you see him out in public he really does come by to say hi because he knows who you are,” she added.
Hanna explained that people travel from all over West Texas to have him deliver their babies. He has regular patients from Muleshoe, Spur, Morton, and Crosbyton. Hanna said he helped one woman with her first 4 deliveries, and then when she moved to San Antonio while pregnant with her 5th child, she returned to Levelland just to have Dr. Hanna deliver that child too.
“I think I’ve delivered someone from almost every town in West Texas,” Hanna said.
Hanna has endless stories about births that have gone in unusual way. He has delivered in parking lots, cars, and elevators.
“Even if I did 3,000 more, every delivery is like a miracle, it just is, it’s just awesome,” Hanna said. “That’s the best part of being a doctor, it’s the best job in the world. Probably if I didn’t have a wife and 5 kids, I would do it for free.”
Now that Hanna has passed the 3,000 deliveries milestone, does he have any other goals?
“I’m just gonna keep going and see how far it goes,” he said. “If I make 4 thousand that would be awesome, if I make 5 thousand I’ve probably been doing it to long.”